This is the kind of book that gives you awestruck goosebumps to read. In addition to sparking spontaneous wonder, it offers illustrations of how to build wonder into your life as a spiritual practice.
It begins with a girl telling us that she visits her grandparents at their little beach house "so close to the water, you can hear the waves." Straight away, we are in the realm of spiritual practice: listening to waves, tuning into what our senses tell us. This sensing leads into wonder's expansive imagination, as the girl notices, "Sometimes I think someone is calling me. But it's just the waves going in, going out."
She goes searching for shells with her grandmother, who says they are little houses for sea creatures. That leads the girl into careful observation, another aspect of wonder: marveling at the shells' colors, shapes, patterns, and textures. These observations, in turn, bring up enlivening questions about who lived in the shells and where they are now.
The practice of wonder also leads to sharing. The girl speaks of lost things that might show up someday, "maybe just a piece of something to show everyone."
Laura Dronzek's pictures strongly evoke the feeling of being at the sea's edge with all its expansive beauty. She includes an array of thoughtful touches, not the least of which is her illustration of the grandparents' cottage, a direct nod to Virginia Lee Burton's classic 1942 book, The Little House.
Author Kevin Henkes, winner of the 2020 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, has been writing books for 40 years and could not have a keener or more poetic sense of what children wonder about. A couple of our favorites in this book were:
"I'd like to know
how deep the water is at its very deepest part."
"I'd like to know
what a pelican thinks of a sandpiper
and if a snowy egret has ever seen snow."
The book winds up in a spot perfect for four-to-eight year olds: with the girl back home snugly in bed, a shell on the nearby shelf. At peace with all that she knows and all that she doesn't know, she will keep exploring with a wonder-filled heart — and readers' natural curiosity about exploring life's great adventure is rekindled, too.